I use Google Apps quite a bit, others use Office 365 and still others use a variety of other great online collaboration and communication services on the market. I think all of us use a mixture of Dropbox, Box.net, and other point online services to run our little enterprises.
Recently I was introduced to Centroy. It’s got a lot of built in features – file sharing, CRM, collaboration, chat and more.
What really impressed me was that their spokesperson said one of their distinguishing features was that they answer the phone when customers call and they are fanatic about being easy to use.
So many online services hate when customers call and are built by geeks that don’t know to make software for non-techies.
There are at least dozens of these online collaboration and communication services on the market – Centroy is one of many. When choosing a system that works for you, it’s important to think of the FEATURES they offer, which features YOU NEED, what is the USER INTERFACE LIKE, how well does it integrate into your work flow and the cost is negligible for most of these services.
What I like about BatchBook is that you can email the system to add names to the contact database. ASANA has a similar feature to add projects to it’s database. Other services let you use an RSS integration to add their calendar to your own calendar.
Here’s a more about Centroy from their vice president of business development on what makes them different:
Centroy is easy to use (our competitors alienate users with a complex user-experience).
Our belief is that the core features (file share, project management, wiki, etc) widely discussed among the more established player are commoditized. That’s not to say the features are not important, but the technology of say ‘file sharing’ is very much a checkbox. Sure, we also promote encryption, workflow, time-stamping files, etc. But we think the competition is missing the point. The features mentioned above matter nill if users don’t adopt them because they’re too confusing to users.
We have a lot of former 37signals customers who fill our ear on this subject. The dirty little secret in the collaboration market is that it suffers from anemic user adoption.
This was a big reason we got into this space a couple years ago. We saw an unmet need.
I don’t want to downplay the features side because we have more features packed than most our competition. But it’s really secondary to us.
First it has to be rock solid secure.
Then it must be easy, as in Facebook-familiar easy.
If users open the app with a confused look, companies will soon find they’re going to spend a whole bunch of time and money on a complicated interface that users won’t adopt. Making it easy is where we shine. It’s a subtle, but huge differentiator for us.
Centroy lets companies brand as their own–their logo, their colors–to make it look like an extension of their website.
Most collaboration tools focus on internal collaboration. Our focus is on business-to-business communication. Small businesses are trying get an edge on competition. They don’t need to “collaborate internally” with software (just go walk 10 feet down the hall…).
Bloated corporations need bloated Sharepoint for that. What small businesses DO need is to “collaborate externally” with customers, clients, partners, suppliers.
It’s do or die on cash flow for SMBs. And driving stronger relationships with customers through collaboration tools is a great focus. We allow our customers to nice branding capabilities to make Centroy look like an extension of their website. Our support team does this for customers within 10mins of sign-up. Their logo, colors, even their favicon.
We don’t promote ourselves in our software. We want our SMB customers to feel empowered and look good with their clients. They really like that!
Centroy actually picks up the phone when a customer calls. Service is an absolute standout
We believe a problem among many of our competitors and other B2B web app vendors is a reluctance to speak with customers. They’ll give out their chat tool and email address, but usually not a phone number. even if they do, you’re likely to go to voice mail.
But again, sometimes it’s the obvious things are most important to customers. People like calling up their vendor when they have questions. It’s amazing how surprised our customers are to reach someone on the phone. They’re thankful for it. Sure it’s a measurable cost investment, but we believe it’s more than justified through a better customer experience, higher retention rates, and overall faster user adoption and roll-out of customers. Customers give us great feedback. Most of our internal meetings are centered around what customer have told us. Real customer service is a lost art in the cloud space. We’re exploiting that.
Centroy focuses greatly on security and compliance.
One of the biggest inhibitors of signing on with any web app company is the obscurred security of what’s behind the curtain. While we target mostly SMBs, we’re proud our of our enterprise-class security requirements. Highest-grade 256-bit SSL encryption, Password protection (of course..), Super-granular user permission roles, automated browser time-based logout, workflow history, change-based revisions roll-backs. SAS70 TypeII operations, synchronous replication across 2 geographic datacenters.